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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Advice for Alcohol Licensing

This page includes information for premises licensed under the Licensing Act 2003.

Update : Rules for opening from 9th November




You should read the relevant sections of the guidance, but listed below are some of the key points.

  • Up to four people (not including children aged under 11) from different households can meet - but this should be a maximum not a target. The only exception is if more than four people live together in one household - applies both indoors and outdoors
  • All regulated premises must take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of exposure to the virus including continuing to ensure compliance with Social Distancing requirement. Where up to 4 people from different households are sat together at a table, every effort should still be made by the business and the customer to ensure that they maximise distance at the table
  • There must be a person controlling entry in respect of the sale or supply of food or drink for consumption on the premises, pre-booking wherever possible with details of all members of the group taken as part of the booking and verified on arrival and allocating a limited time for example a booking period/dwell time of up to 2 hours (120 minutes) for each group
  • Keeping records of staff, customers and visitors to support the Test, Trace, Protect service is mandatory, their telephone numbers, date of visit arrival and departure time must be collected and retained for 21 days (the NHS app is not a substitute for this)
  • Customers are required to provide verification of their name. Methods of verification may vary but might for example include drivers licence, bank or credit cards. Particular attention should be given to the details of a household group over 4 to ensure they are from the same address
  • Customers must be seated (anywhere other than at a bar) when ordering food or drink, when being served with food and drink, and when consuming food and drink. If paying at the counter, social distancing should be maintained. In unlicensed premises customers can order and pay at the counter subject to maintaining social distancing, but should consume food and drink at their table.
  • Premises must stop selling and serving alcohol at 10pm and be closed (with no members of the public allowed to be on the premises) by 10.20pm. They can continue to provide take-aways and take-away delivery services beyond 10pm. However, these services cannot include any alcohol beyond 10pm.
  • All staff and customers should wear face coverings unless the person is under 11 or has a reasonable excuse not to wear the face covering (e.g. to eat or drink).
  • The obligation is on members of the public to adhere to the latest travel restrictionsWhilst businesses are not legally responsible for enforcing these requirements on their customers, they must not help customers break these restrictions. This means not knowingly accepting customers who have travelled to their premises from an area where travel is not permitted. The obligation is on the individual although a business that encourages a breach may also commit an offence.
  • All businesses must set and display the maximum capacity for the premises and put in place measures for communicating and managing the maximum capacity set
  • Ensure customers are fully aware of their responsibilities for observing social distancing and all Covid-19 safety measures using clear signage.
  • Manage  queues inside and on entry to the premises by use of signage or floor markings
  • Implement one way systems, where the building allows
  • Maximise ventilation and enhance airflow by opening windows and propping open internal doors where possible.
  • Designate a named member or members of staff (depending on number of covers) during all opening hours to monitor Covid-19 hygiene and enforcement of social distancing/safety protocols - acting as 'Covid Secure Monitors'.
  • Venues are not permitted to hold live performances, including drama, comedy or music, to take place in front of a live audience. TV broadcasts, recorded music and any other approved forms of entertainment throughout the premises should be kept at background level, and dancing and singing should be avoided
  • Avoiding shared activities in hospitality venues that would entail people breaching the rules on indoor gatherings e.g. skittles, darts, pool and other 'pub games
  • All businesses should implement rigorous cleaning and hygiene practices to keep their premises safe, with thorough and regular cleaning of high contact touch points, toilets, tables etc. Where possible, obtain hand sanitiser for dispensers at bar (point of sale and/or order) and/or at external doors.
  • Advise customers not to enter if they have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Each business must have available on site a full risk assessment, prepared in line with the Welsh Government and UK Hospitality industry guidance

26th October 2020 - Firebreak Lockdown

Restaurants, cafes, bars and public houses are once again required to close from 6pm Friday 23 October until 12:01am Monday 9 November 2020, takeaway and food delivery services may remain open.

Premises  may not sell or supply alcohol between 10.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m.

Here is the link to relevant welsh government regulations:

Details of grants that are available for businesses can be found here:

24th September 2020

Following this weeks' announcement by Welsh Government the up to date regulations have now been published and came into effect at 6pm on 24th September.

These are the changes:

Table Service Only

Food or drink may only be served to customers who are seated and customers must be seated when consuming the food or drink. This applies whether customers are sat indoors or outdoors

Closing  Times 

All licensed Premises licence for sale of alcohol may not sell alcohol between 10pm and 6 am (includes both on and off sales)

On-licensed premises must close between 10.20pm and 6 am, this effectively allows for a 20min drinking up time.

There is no earlier closing time imposed on takeaway food premises. Hours in accordance with any existing  Premises licence for late night refreshment still apply. Where such premises are authorised to sell alcohol they may not sell alcohol between 10pm and 6 am however.

Face coverings

It is now a requirement to wear a face covering in premises where food or drink is sold, but it will be a reasonable excuse for customers not to wear a face covering whilst seated. Therefore customers must wear a face mask up until the point that they are seated and also if they need to leave the table to visit the toilets, all staff should wear a  face covering at all times in such premises.

In summary the below outlines the way in which an on-licensed premises (pub, restaurant, café) should be operating:

  • Customer(s) arrive at premises, wearing face covering. They are greeted by a member of staff at the door (wearing face covering) Track Trace, Protect protocol, completed and Extended Households confirmed. Shown to table by the same member of staff all still wearing their masks. Member of staff takes drinks order and takes order to the table. If they go to the toilet then they have to put on their masks.
  • Replacement drinks are ordered from the table with the same member of staff (both customer and member of staff are wearing face covering) who collects the used glasses at the same time and the drinks are supplied in new glasses. (Thereby avoiding mixing used glasses.)
  • Customers leave premises with face covering  on TTP time of departure is noted by same member of staff. Same member of staff (face covering on) collects used glasses and cleans down table and chairs.
  • Premises door closed and no sale of alcohol after 10pm. Customers are encouraged to drink up and must leave by 10.20pm. No drinks are allowed to leave the premises with customers after 10pm.

New NHS app Launched

There is a 'check-in' feature on the app which will allow businesses to register for an official QR code, allowing app users to check-in by scanning the code. This feature allows complete anonymity for both businesses and users when tracing cases of coronavirus. It is quick, simple and secure and will help contract tracers to get in touch with users quickly if necessary. However this doesn't replace the legal requirement for certain high-risk businesses in Wales to collect information from customers, staff and visitors. App and non-app users will still need to give their contact details

14th September 2020

Welsh Government have introduced new rules that came into effect from 14th September, they affect indoor public places and hospitality venues where gatherings take place.

These are the new requirements

Face Coverings:

It is now a requirement that face coverings are worn in inside public spaces. There are a number of exemptions to this and they are:

  • Children under the age of 11
  • At premises where food or drink is sold or otherwise provided for consumption in a part of premises e.g. pubs and restaurants and the requirement would apply to that part of the premises only e.g. a public area of a hotel, but not the bar or restaurant area
  • where a person has a reasonable excuse not to wear a face covering:

Reasonable excuses are set out as:

(a)where a person is unable to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or a disability

(b) where a person is undertaking an activity and wearing a face covering during that activity may reasonably be considered to be a risk to person's health;

(c) where a person has to remove the face covering to communicate with another person who has difficulty communication;

(d) where a person has to remove the face covering in order to avoid harm or injury;                                                        

(e) where a person is at the premises to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and does not have a face covering;

(f) where a person has to remove the face covering to—

(i) take medication;

(ii) eat or drink, where reasonably necessary;

(g) where a person is asked to remove the face covering by an enforcement officer.

In relation to staff working at hospitality venues, if your risk assessment has identified that there is a requirement for staff to wear a face covering because 2m social distancing can't be maintained between staff members or between staff and customers then this control measure should remain in place.

Rule of 6

A gathering in premises indoors may not  consist of more than 6 members of an extended household, not including any children under the age of 11.

  • The implication for hospitality venues is that you must not accept a booking or allow a group of more than 6 people from one household to sit together indoors.
  • Premises cannot accept bookings for indoor meetings or parties as they will likely involve 6 members of an extended household, the exemptions for weddings and funerals (up to 30 persons) still apply
  • Outdoors there has been no change so the rule of 6 does not apply where the extended household group are sitting together outdoors.
  • When customers attend or make a reservation to come to your premises as a group to be seated together they should be reminded that they must be from one extended household (up to four households may agree to be treated as an extended household)

17th August 2020

Test Trace and Protect (TTP)

It is now a legal requirement that the Hospitality sector, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes collect contact information from each person at the premises or, in relation to persons from the same household, from one of them, and retaining it for 21 days for the purpose of providing it to the Welsh Ministers or to a public health officer upon either's request. Where a business offers a mixture of a sit-in and takeaway service, contact information is only needed for customers who are sitting in.

For further details see

The TTP Strategy ensures that outbreaks are contained, this is crucial to reducing the spread of coronavirus, protecting the NHS in Wales and saving lives. This will support the country in returning to, and maintaining, a more normal way of life.

31st July 2020

Indoor hospitality will be able to re-open from Monday 3rd August. Please see the attached guidance that you will need to consider and then implement a covid risk assessment for your premises in readiness for re-opening.

Some of the key points from the guidance include:

  • Each premises is different and will need a bespoke plan that is reflected in the risk assessment
  • Identify pinch points and action to be taken to resolve or mitigate these e.g. narrow passages and stairways
  • Customer notices to inform of access restrictions and social distancing measures
  • Hand sanitiser dispensers at the bar and external doors
  • Measures to control SD at queues/waiting areas, including markers on floors
  • Advise customers do not enter if they have covid 19 symptoms
  • Manage and control access to toilet areas
  • Manage flow of customers/staff at premises and implement table service where practical
  • Consider Measures to ensure that customers do not remain at the bar once they have purchased their drinks
  • Consider dwell times at tables
  • Regular cleaning and sanitising of surfaces and all touch points
  • Cashless payments if possible
  • Cleaning arrangements for AWP machines, pool tables, juke boxes etc needs to be considered in risk assessment
  • Record lead details of group for TTP
  • Management of customers to ensure they stay in their groups
  • Where outdoor areas are being used these need to be monitored to ensure large groups do not form
  • Customer Conduct notices and measures to deal with customers non-compliance of SD


There is currently no mention of social distancing measures being reduced from 2m. Groups of customers must be sat on tables at least 2m apart. In addition, anywhere there is a requirement for customers to queue that this must also be socially distanced at 2m


Our Licensing Team, whilst working from home are maintaining the licensing service and are available to support and advise local businesses whilst promoting the licensing objectives.

Applicants can continue to submit applications in respect of licensed premises and licensable activities, they will be processed in line with statutory timescales.

Applications via email ( or  website are encouraged, there may be a short delay in responding to applications submitted by post as this is not checked every day due to restrictions about staff access to Council offices, in addition there may also be a short delay in sending out any paper licences, electronic licences will be issued in the short term.

Under The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(Wales) Regulations 2020,, many licensed premises have been forced to close. These include pubs, clubs and restaurants selling food or drink for consumption on the premises (which includes any seating areas adjacent to the premises).


Off Sales

Shops, supermarkets, take-away food and drink restaurants, delivery services and off-licences remain open for business and provide a vital role in supplying households. They must ensure customers collecting goods and takeaways abide by the social distance rules and not allow consumption of food or drink on the premises or any adjacent seating area.

Premises still remain closed for on-sales, however a  new Business and Planning Bill on route to approval will give a blanket permission for any premises licensed for on-sale of alcohol to make off-sales in addition, this provision will remain in place until end of September 2021.

Off sales advice:

Where off sales of alcohol are made for immediate consumption outside the premises then there must not be any adjacent seating this includes any public seating areas.  You must take steps to ensure that your customers do not gather together to drink this could include signage at the point of sale, in addition staff should monitor the immediate area to ensure that this does not happen and ensure that customers disperse.


Re-opening of Premises

Hospitality premises - bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants etc are now permitted to open outdoors only from Monday 13th July. Please see the Welsh Guidance published by UK hospitality in conjunction with Welsh Government

Additional Welsh Government Requirements (see guidance above for a full list):

  • Opening outdoors only
  • Marquees /awnings / gazebos must have 3 or 4 open sides, must be policed effectively so as not to allow for an excessive confined congregation
  • Pre-booking recommended
  • Record lead customer names and contact details to facilitate Test Trace Protect
  • Table consumption only, standing permitted at tall tables
  • Set Max capacity, consider setting dwell times to manage this
  • Deploy fixed teams of staff on each shift to reduce interactivity
  • No live performances including drama, comedy or music
  • Childrens Play areas to be closed
  • Consider use of Apps or other communication devices to reduce contact with customers, include options for menus, ordering, billing and contactless payment
  • Access to indoor toilets permitted (see separate guidance on this below)
  • Deep clean before re-opening
  • Thorough & regular cleaning of high contact touch points
  • Signage about social distancing, ensure customers comply

You should also make reference to the Welsh government Hospitality Sector Guidance:

Premises will need to undertake a Covid 19 risk assessment of their premises and consider what measures are necessary. For a template risk assessment see

Below are some resources that may assist in preparing for re-opening:

5 steps to operating safely [242KB]


Use of Outside Areas

Premises will currently only be able to use outside areas that they own, or have a licence for such as beer gardens and car parks to provide seating and tables for customers. Businesses may also want to provide a table service to customers and this will be permissible regardless of whether the area is included on your premises plan.

However, if you anticipate erecting an outside bar for selling of alcohol then licence holders should check that their outside areas are covered to do this i.e. is the outside area covered on the premises licence for sale of alcohol, you would need to refer to the plan attached to your premises licence. If not then you might want to consider varying your licence to enable this or to use temporary authorisations such as a TEN  bearing in mind there are restrictions on the number of TENS and days that a TEN can cover. If you are unsure about whether your licence covers you for an outdoor bar then please contact the licensing team for advice.


Licence fees

Licensing Act 2003 fees are set centrally. Councils don't have flexibility and the Act does not provide any mechanism to refund licence fees. Premises licences are subject to an annual fee which is due on the anniversary of the grant of the licence. Invoices shall be sent when this is due. Generally when annual fees become due but are not paid, the premises licence is suspended. This remains the default position.

Premises may be closed due to the lockdown when the annual fee becomes due. If no licensable activities are being conducted you may decide not to pay the annual fee and allow your licence to be suspended. Suspended premises licences can be re-instated upon receipt of the annual fee payment. Premises can be open with the licence suspended if no licensable activity is taking place i.e. restaurant selling food for takeaway or deliveries but no alcohol


Accreditation Scheme Visit Wales

For tourism and event venues Visit Wales are launching an accreditation scheme to give reassurance to customers and the public that premises are taking the necessary precautions and are taking re-opening seriously


Business Support

For business support and guidance please visit our COVID-19 guidance for business page Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Help for Businesses



Licensing team: 01597 827389 /

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